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NGOZI BROWN: Best for children

Choices in education important by Ngozi "Nome" Brown Special to the Democrat-Gazette | October 26, 2019 at 1:54 a.m.

The topic of school choice is an important one to discuss. School choice is all about giving families the ability to discover the best learning environment for their child.

All children have different learning styles, and that is certainly true for my children. While families want more personalized options for their child's education, many do not know how or where to start.

Having three children of my own, this is personal to me as I witness their different learning styles daily. In seeing how my children receive and obtain information, I recognized early that a public school education would not give my children the one-on-one education they deserve. Therefore I, even while being a full-time working single mom, chose to homeschool my children. In doing so, our education plan has created a system that holds each of my children accountable and allows them to work at their own pace.

This may come as a surprise to some, but homeschooling is the fastest growing form of education in the country. In less than two decades, the number of students who are homeschooled nationally has almost doubled, according to the Department of Education.

Many have a stigma around homeschooling and believe that because students are not in public school they may become isolated from society. I don't believe this scare tactic, but I do believe that children who are home-schooled are highly likely to graduate.

Contrary to widely spread myth, homeschooled children are not isolated, nor do they lack social skills. My oldest child is in a homeschool co-op that meets every Monday and Wednesday for the entire school year. My middle child will begin attending next year. The co-op offers college prep in subjects such as algebra, biology, chemistry, foreign languages and more. At this co-op, my daughter is able to learn and socialize alongside over 100 other homeschoolers as they prepare for college or trades.

My oldest two children are active members in both speech and debate club, and my youngest is in the junior speech club. They do this for fun, but they also compete in tournaments throughout the United States. I enjoy being able to show my kids my support by volunteering to help at the tournaments and speech club--even their grandmother (my mom) volunteers at speech club--it's a family affair! At speech and debate club, all three children are able to enjoy interacting socially with other kids their ages and engage in deep intellectual thought. They are able to vocalize their ideas and perspectives to their peers in constructive ways, all the while learning the important life skills of respectful dissent, effective communication, sportsmanship, and healthy competition.

In addition to speech and debate, all three children take private piano lessons and participate in piano competitions and recitals with other musically talented kids. Last year my children were members of the Young Generation bowling league, this summer they all attended golf camp, and this year they all play golf (with public school kids). My son has previously participated in basketball, and all three children regularly take art classes with other kids their ages at the Arkansas Arts Center--their most recent involvement being a 10-week pottery class.

My oldest daughter is currently preparing for her second high school homeschoolers dance--last year she had a blast getting glammed up in order to enjoy an evening of partying, dancing and pigging out on junk food with her friends in a safe, wholesome, and fun environment.

My children and I are members of the state's largest homeschool support group, and each year our entire group (over 400 homeschooling families) descend on our state Capitol together to advocate for homeschooling. This is a great opportunity for homeschoolers to get firsthand experience with civic engagement and advocacy, not to mention it's a great time to socialize too!

And of course, all three children are active in our church, where they have opportunities to worship alongside other believers, play the piano during the services, enjoy the church youth programs, and participate in other ways as well (Sunday School, choir, etc.).

They have a very active social life--and it's well-balanced and catered to their specific interests, and sensitive to their deeply held values and beliefs.

Homeschooling might not be the option for everyone, but when it comes to education, every parent or guardian should be able to make that choice for themselves. After all, all success and productivity start with a good education. These reasons are why I will always advocate for school choice.


Ngozi "Nome" Brown is an architect and interior designer in North Little Rock.

Editorial on 10/26/2019


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